Friday, March 15, 2013

We all admired Coach Mize

Jimmy Mize
          Few people who have graced the campus of Louisiana Tech University are more beloved, more admired, more respected than Jimmy Mize.
          Some of the athletes he coached -- offensive linemen in football and one conference champion discus thrower and track/field team captain -- and a former Tech sports information director share their thoughts about Coach Mize, who will be honored again this weekend as part of the Jim Mize Invitational meet at the Jim Mize Track and Field Complex.

          Jesse Carrigan (offensive guard/tackle, 1965-68): "Off the field, we played New Mexico State at Las Cruces in '67. Coach Mize was a pilot in World War II and I sat behind him on the plane ride. He was very happy to be in the air, we were on a prop aircraft, and he told stories all the way there about flying without radar, etc., during the war. He used hand gestures to explain all the combat moves and we were all so entertained.
          "That Friday night, we went to a movie, Bonnie and Clyde, and he went with us. When we got back to the motel, we all stood in the parking lot as he told the story of seeing Bonnie and Clyde after they were killed in his hometown, Arcadia.
           "On the field, he was the best. I rarely, if ever, saw him lose his temper, and he loved what he was doing. He was kind and courteous.
           "Coach Mize was the consummate gentleman, and a gentle man. I loved Coach Mize. He was great to me.

          Glenn Murphy  (offensive guard, 1965-68): "Thanks for allowing me to write about a man who was my hero next to my Dad. I wrote Coach Mize a letter about 7-8 years ago. I told him it has only taken me 40 years to tell him how much I appreciated the values that were taught to me by him. Coach Mize was a man of values.
          "He would take time to illustrate the proper way to block someone step-by-step. He wanted us to shape our lives using values taught to us through our spiritual leaders. Along with being a tough-nosed football player, he wanted us to be tough-nosed when temptation arose. He wanted us to grow into fine men and good citizens.
        "I thank my God often that I had the opportunity to play for Coach Mize and learn to 'keep those white socks movin'.
         "I talked with Coach Mize three weeks ago. ... Still sounds great and still Mr. Positive."

         Tim Hall (conference discus champion, 1965-66): "When asked to write something about Jim Mize, my initial thoughts were along the lines of 'no problem.' But as I thought about it for some time, I became aware that it was going to be a lot harder than I originally thought. You see, there are many layers in the myriad memories I have about the five years I spent under his tutelage.
        "First and foremost, Jim Mize is one of the first and one of the few, real gentlemen I have ever known. He was at once compassionate and understanding, yet demanding in an almost imperceptible manner. He was all about shouldering your responsibilities ... 'saddling up and handling your business,' as he would say.
photo from
       "He never seemed to get ruffled and he lived on the most even keel I have ever observed. Too bad I didn't learn that lesson!
        "In my last two years at Tech, we spent quite a bit of time together and largely by observation I learned life lessons that have withstood the test of time ... 46 years, to be exact.
       "Last March, Carol and I spent some time with him and Miss Minnie in Baton Rouge. It was a most enjoyable visit and, no surprise to me, he was as he was the first time I met him ... gentlemanly, polite, and smooth ... and if he had told me, as he once did, to jump out on the track and stride out a quarter mile, I might have tried to do it."

      Butch Williams (offensive tackle, 1966-69): "I have the utmost respect for coach Mize as both a coach and as a person. He served as my offensive line coach along with Pat Patterson during the time I was at Louisiana Tech. I came to school as a linebacker, so everything I know about offensive line I learned from these two men.
       "Coach Mize had a unique way of teaching you without hardly raising his voice. He was so much like Coach Joe Aillet in that sense.
        "His favorite saying was, "OK, guys, you have got to keep those little white socks moving." We all thought it was kind of funny, but it was a simple way to tell us that we had to keep our feet moving if we wanted to make our block.
         "He was a great coach, but I respect him even more as a man. I never heard him speak down to any player nor did I ever him use profanity on or off the field. If he ever met you, he knew you forever. He could get up at the football banquet, and without a list in front of him, call out every player, his hometown, parents' names, and high school coaches'  names. He has an unbelivable memory.
       "Coach Jim Mize and his dear wife Minnie are two of my favorite people."

       Keith Prince: "In 25 years as Tech's SID (starting in 1969), I never had a better relationship with a coach than I did Coach Mize. He loved his athletes so much, and he loved representing Louisiana Tech so much that it was always a pleasure to work with him.
       "I've never met any man with higher morals or character than Coach Mize. And his memory still amazes me to this day. He served as my 'living history book' on Tech athletics -- even for many years after his retirement.
      "He and Minnie are truly the 'Grand Couple' of Louisiana Tech and I feel fortunate to have known them both for the past 40-plus years."



  1. From Jesse Carrigan: I'm sure you just set a record in sports writing. Surely no one has ever written a story where three offensive linemen got some ink. Murphy, Williams and I appreciate it. ... Great article about Coach Mize. If you talk with him, give him my kind regards.

  2. From Keith Prince: I really enjoyed both of these blogs because you have painted a very true picture of Coach Mize. He and Minnie made it to the dinner Friday night and we all (about 40, I guess) loved being with them for a little while. He can't move around much any more but he remains very sharp...and Minnie is still very mobile. Thanks for doing these pieces on Coach.